Local leaders in Gisagara district have lauded the efforts that have been geared up by ActionAid Rwanda through Speak Out Project to address challenges that used to hamper women’s development.
Alex Nkizingabo Nkunda, Executive Secretary of Muganza Sector, Gisagara District of Southern Province says that there were many obstacles to the development of girls and women before the Speak Out project intervened to operate in the Sector.
He says their progress was derailed by lack of knowledge about the family law, law punishing and preventing violence, the law about family property and notes that the project came as a solution to such pressing issues.
In this sector, there were large number of teen pregnancies and teen girls leaving school to get married, since many parents were not taking time to discuss sexual reproductive health with their children.
He mentions that after Speak Out project begun to train children and parents, there is a lot that has changed.
“Speak Out project was timely. It has organized children’s clubs in all schools and then children started to talk about reproductive health. What they do not learn from their parents, they learn it from school clubs. This has helped girls to understand their rights and has also addressed challenges that were affecting girls’ and women’s development,” he says.
He further says that Speak Out Project in collaboration with local authorities and security organs has facilitated the exchange of information in case of violence and shaped the way of assisting the victim on time and prosecuting the perpetrator while previously such crimes used to be hidden.
“We have seen the results of the project both in fighting, preventing and punishing violence. A lot has been achieved in training local authorities and the community on Gender-Based Violence prevention to such an extent that teen pregnancies are drastically decreasing. Speak Out project came as a good solution,” he says.
He goes on saying that a large number of people have been arrested for allegedly raping children, all of which has been achieved due to information provided by mentors of children, their clubs and parents after the training.
He said that if all the people continue to join efforts, the obstacles to preventing and combating child abuse will be defeated.
He urged children to be satisfied with basic needs offered by their parents so as to avoid being enticed into sexual intercourses by men.
In Gisagara District, Speak Out Project operates in three sectors (Muganza, Gishubi and Kibirizi Sectors) out of thirteen sectors comprising the District. With support from the UKAID, the project is implemented by ActionAid Rwanda in partnership with Faith Victory Association (FVA) and Rwanda Girls Guide.
To empower women and prevent Gender-Based Violence, Speak Out Project has school based activities which include activities done in school clubs where boys are mixed with girls and session are delivered by club facilitator and safe spaces for girls only and sessions are delivered by mentors. The project has community engagement activities which include community awareness meetings held through community gatherings, Violence Against Women and Girls coordination meetings held quarterly, psychosocial support for teen mothers and referring SGBV survivors to relevant authorities for both legal and medical support.
“If Speak Out Project could operate in all areas of the District, more positive results could be achieved,” Alex noted.